Force. Strength. Power. Regardless of your sport, it’s always beneficial to be able to pack a punch. Marathon? You’ll need to overtake fellow runners every now and then. Bike race? You’ll need to sprint past your opponents for the line. Triathlon? You’ll need a fast start in the swim to get a good position in the pack.
But how should you go about achieving these gains? Many coaches would suggest for you to work on your sprints during your current training programme – but to see significant improvements you’ll need to dedicate some time to this specifically! Of course, time is of the essence when preparing for an event, but you’ll be pleased to know that you can achieve significant increases in your explosiveness within just 6 days of training with the help of altitude training.
Repeated sprints (<6 seconds long, 24–30 seconds recovery) are something we typically include in our Hypoxic HIIT and Ride and Run Club classes. The idea behind them is to run/ride maximally for a short period of time, and repeat a number of times. They require large bursts of energy within this short period of time to really hit the target power/speed. It’s a straightforward method for warming up, but also nicely added onto the end of a session to achieve a strong finish. Love them or hate them, they’re easy to carry out!
A recent study carried out by a group of researchers in Japan gave a group of college sprinters a 6 day training program. Each day, they completed a range of 6, 15 and 30 maximal sprints on a bike, with 5-10 min recovery between each set. Half of the group completed these in hypoxic conditions (14.5% O2), whereas the other group completed these in sea level conditions. The results showed that hypoxia did not reduce sprint performance (mean and peak power) compared to sea level. However, only those who completed the sprints in hypoxia saw an increase in phosphocreatine (the fuel required for large amounts of energy in a short period of time) after the 6 day training period.
So what does that mean? To improve the fuel required to repeatedly sprint maximally, and not hinder your sprinting performance, we recommend carrying out a range of sprint-focused intervals in the chamber. You’ll see benefits from just 6 consecutive days!
Kasai et al. (2017). J Strength Cond Res, 33(1), 36-43.